La Paz

We departed Puerto Balandra for Bahia Falsa, just a short distance away. Bahia Falsa isn’t as beautiful as Balandra but it’s peaceful and we’re looking forward to some restful nights of sleep. I went to drop the anchor and after letting out about 30 feet of chain, it stopped paying out of the locker. We’ve had issues with the chain getting castled (the building up and piling of chain) in the anchor locker which impacts us when bringing up the chain, but we don’t have issues with letting the chain out. Turns out a big knot of chain was stuck in the chain pipe. In dislodging it, the rubber chain pipe fell off, and the chain runs through it, so pulling up or dropping anchor would be challenging without it in place. We quickly pulled out of the anchorage and back out to the sea, giving ourselves time to pull 30 feet of chain back through the pipe and reattach it. Once anchored at Bahia Falsa, we immediately go to work to alter the shape of the pipe to allow the chain to fall free and clear into the locker. If we’re in a bad situation, having this pipe fall down or prevent us from raising or dropping anchor could be dangerous. We haven’t had any chain issues since making our alteration.

There’s not much to do here in Bahia Falsa but relax so that’s what we do. There’s a little restaurant at the beach serving cold beer and decent guacamole. The beach, Playa El Tesoro, is mainly visited by locals and really pleasant.

Ferry leaving Bahia Pichilingue

View from Bahia Falsa of a ferry leaving Bahia Pichilingue.

After a few days, we head on over to La Paz harbor, where we drop anchor in the El Magote anchorage. Being anchored in the harbor is pretty interesting as it’s dominated by the ebb and flow of the tides which produces powerful currents due to a large body of water and a narrow harbor entrance. It’s a phenomenon and has a name – the La Paz Waltz. Boats swing around with the currents, some in different directions due to different hull and keel shapes. Once anchored, you’ll be facing one direction and start to notice that you’re very slowly turning completely around and facing in the opposite direction but the boat next to you is pointed sideways. It’s weird.

IMG_9840

Boats facing all directions in La Paz.

Frame-25-05-2016-10-35-53

Some rare calm waters in the La Paz anchorage.

We’re anchored not far from Marina de La Paz which offers use of a dinghy dock so we come into town often. La Paz is a good-sized city and we’ve enjoyed eating out, having tacos, ice cream, raspados and walking along the Malecón, a waterfront walkway that follows the bay for a number of miles.

IMG_9681

On our way into town from Juniper.

This is what Viviane is so eager to get into town for.

This is what Viviane is so eager to get into town for.

View of the anchorage from the Malecón

A little sailing dinghy we see around the anchorage now sitting on the beach in front of the Malecón.

The best thing about the bay is the marine life. Tons of fish, frigate birds, and pelicans that dive bomb your boat, gobbling up the fish hiding underneath. The best is that there are dolphins in the harbor and we’re anchored not far from their mating area. Every day, pods of dolphins pass by our boat, usually about twice a day but sometimes 3-4 times a day. They don’t get too close to the boat that often, but there are schools of mackerel in the bay and there’s usually a school hiding under our boat, no doubt hoping the dolphins aren’t interested in swinging by a bunch of humans. Four times already we’ve had dolphins come right to our boat to feed on our fish friends. The most memorable experience was when a dolphin broke from the pod and swam over to the boat and flipped onto his side right next to boat where I was standing. I looked right into his eye. He then swam 20 feet away, head out of the water seemingly gesticulating, and swam back to where I was standing, thumped the dinghy that was in the water with his tail, swam 20 feet away again but this time jumped out of the water, and then swam back to where I was standing, on his side, to look at me again. There’s no words to express how excited I was! It was the coolest thing ever! There could be many reasons he did this, but of course I’m thinking he wanted me to play with him!

Some fish hiding from pelicans under Juniper. This does not fool the dolphins

And here come the dolphins

We loved seeing these guys every day.

Despite all the dolphins and other distractions, we managed to work on some projects on our boat. Which is good because like we’ve been told, La Paz can suck you in and we’ve been anchored here for what seems like forever. We’ve been here for so long that our anchor chain accumulated a lot of growth! We’re looking forward to visiting Balandra again. Yes, we’re going back because it’s a short sail away and just too darn beautiful. We’re watching the weather closely to avoid any nighttime antics and heading over as soon as we can. Fingers crossed!

Puerto Balandra

This anchorage is beautiful. It’s the most beautiful anchorage we’ve seen so far. Gorgeous turquoise and clear waters. Little beaches along the shore. It’s stunningly and ridiculously beautiful. We can’t help but laugh at our good fortune in being here. It’s that insane. We enjoy the end of the first day, have a glass of wine in the cockpit and go to bed. The first night at a new anchorage is always a bit of a restless night, as we get used to new noises, pay attention to our anchor alarm, and check on our anchor snubbers. This night is no different. A little windy, but nothing we haven’t dealt with before.

On day two we launch the runabout. We marvel at the color of the water. We just cannot get over how beautiful this place is. The water is so shallow in places that you can just walk across it from one beach to the other. At one point, we ground the dingy and Scott gets out and walks us off the shoal, dodging sting rays hiding under the sand. We stop on one of the beaches, lay down our blanket, and enjoy some Pinot Grigio* while gazing at the water.

Checking out the beaches of Puerto Balandra

Checking out the beaches of Puerto Balandra

Back on the boat we enjoy a nice dinner in the cockpit and are treated to a gorgeous sunset of red and pink streaks across the sky. We amble to the bow of the boat, wine glasses in hand. There’s a slight breeze that’s picking up. I’m feeling a chill in my tank top and we head below.

All hell starts to break loose. The boat is lurching, hobby horsing, and it feels like we’re on a particularly rough passage in open seas. We hear the wind rattling through our rigging, the swells are moving us around pretty hard, things are shifting inside the boat as we move from port to starboard, starboard to port, and buck from bow to stern. It is so bad that we can barely move around the boat, much less go to sleep in the v-berth at the bow. Scott and I pull out the lee cloths and sleep in the main cabin. If you can call what we did sleep, because the both of us were kept awake by the noise, the motion, and the constant need to check on the anchor alarm that keeps giving us false alarms.

The rocking and rolling and nausea inducing hobby horsing doesn’t stop until late the next morning, 11am to be exact. And then all that motion is replaced by a placid calm. After exchanging conversation with Scott that’s mutually embedded with profanities and frustrations (What the HELL is up with this place?! We’re not staying here another night! This place is NUTS! OH.MY.GOD I DIDN’T SLEEP.) we stepped outside and just had to explore this bay again. I mean, this can’t happen again, right? RIGHT?

We launch our runabout and head to a different beach. We’re alone and it’s a gorgeous day. We set up our beach umbrella, break out the blanket and the wine. Scott goes for a snorkel, and while I watch him, a whale breeches in the sea behind him, a good distance away.

Puerto Balandra is not too shabby.

Puerto Balandra is not too shabby.

Back in the boat, we enjoy a nice dinner in the cockpit, another beautiful red and pink sunset, and then the hobby horsing begins. This time, in preparation for craziness, Scott launches our flopper stopper (a product that disrupts the harmonics of the roll and motion of the swells), but as the night goes on, the rolling back and forth gets more pronounced, not as bad as the previous night, but more rolly even, causing us to roll back and forth in our bed. Scott manages to fall asleep but I cannot adapt to the movement, and instead move to the main cabin and wedge myself against the lee cloth.

We wake up the next morning to calm seas and discover that our flopper stopper is gone! I immediately jump to the conclusion that it was stolen while Scott assumes that the pressure on the line attaching the flopper stopper to the boat was so great from last night’s adventure time that his cleat hitch got worked off. We take several looks around the boat and don’t see it at all. Because the water is so calm and clear, I decide to hang out at the bow of the boat and see if I can eventually spot it. After a while, I spot the flopper stopper by our anchor chain, in 20 feet of water.

By the time we get ready to lower our runabout into the water, the wind starts to pick up. By the time we’re both in the runabout, the waves begin. We row upwind in a vain attempt to reach the spot where the flopper stopper is resting in the sand. While I think we managed to find the spot, we don’t know for sure as we’re unable to maintain our position and the wind and waves are increasing. Frustrated, we row back to the boat. Back at the bow, I can no longer spot the flopper stopper in the water, as the wind and waves make it impossible to see clear to the bottom.

Scott drops a waypoint on the chartplotter as to where the flopper stopper is resting with hopes that when we come back this way the water will be clear enough and calm enough for us to spot and retrieve it, assuming no one else has. We pull the anchor up and head out, frustrated by the loss of this expensive product, and frustrated by the Jekyll and Hyde nature of this devastatingly beautiful anchorage.

*Bright side: at least our freezer/fridge is working as a fridge right now. We’re still troubleshooting, but we’re able to keep things at a safe 40 degrees.